New York state chips in for orgs’ indie HQ

Grant to fund media arts center

As part of an ongoing push to bring cultural orgs, artists and filmmakers into Lower Manhattan, the New York Governor’s Office has given a $100,000 grant to Independent Feature Project/New York and Film/Video Arts to create a plan for a downtown media arts center.

The proposed site ideally will become the headquarters of IFP/New York and F/VA and will house office space, film and vid screening rooms, editing facilities, classrooms, conference and meeting spaces, and special events areas.

The goal is to create a dynamic center for the independent film community, accommodating not-for-profit and for-profit orgs that would bring together individuals and organizations from various film, multimedia and digital technology disciplines and foster cross-fertilization.

“We’re thrilled about this, because New York considers itself the independent capital of the world,” said Pat Swinney Kaufman, deputy commissioner/director of the New York State Film Office. “After 9/11, Gov. Pataki has been very committed to the rejuvenation and revitalization of Lower Manhattan, and a significant part of that is bringing the arts back into the area.”

The grant was announced Tuesday by Charles A. Gargano, chairman of Empire State Development.

Setting up shop

In addition to looking for potential locations and suitable existing buildings, IFP/New York and F/VA — both long-established not-for-profits involved in indie film development, production and exhibition on entrepreneurial and training levels — will be canvassing other companies and organizations that might take up residence in the new structure, as well as pursuing investors for the project.

“In New York, you can show up in any neighborhood and find filmmakers working on everything from microbudget guerrilla projects to studio productions, but there is no structure that allows all those elements to come together,” said IFP/New York exec director Michelle Byrd.

“We’re looking at it as a space where there is traffic and interaction from every level of the filmmaking community,” F/VA exec director Eileen Newman added.

Screen count

The structure will contain some screening facilities and will offer an alternative to the midtown Directors Guild of America site as well as providing a lab space for larger, for-profit orgs to show product. However, the primary focus is not expected to be that of an exhibition center. Given the need for more screening rooms, it appears unlikely the new center would become the site for IFP’s annual market in the fall.

The media arts center is part of a campaign by the city and state government to bring film production to Gotham.

“New York’s vibrant independent film community represents a unique convergence of culture and commerce,” Kaufman said. “This project represents an exciting opportunity to bring that energy and vitality into the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan.”

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